A PRIZE-winning farmer has hit out at irresponsible dog owners after two of her pedigree sheep were killed in vicious attacks.
Julie Bury found a ewe dead in a field near Witney on Monday, days after she had to have a £600 Bleu du Maine ewe put down after it was left bleeding to death from a leg injury.
She has urged the public to keep dogs on leads when walking through fields with livestock.
The first sheep was attacked between 3.30pm last Wednesday and 3.30pm last Thursday.
Mrs Bury, of Malt House Farm, Brighthampton, near Witney, said she was devastated to find two prized animals savaged in quick succession.
She said: “I am completely gutted, heartbroken.
“I’ve no idea how the Bleu du Maine was even still alive because her leg was that badly eaten away.
“It looks like they have been eaten by a dog which is just horrible.
“The sheep are so friendly they will come up to anyone.”
She added: “I don’t know why the ewe was singled out when she was the largest in the field.
“You get used to death as a sheep farmer, they are forever thinking of ingenious ways of hurting themselves and it is your job to keep them alive, but it’s terrible to go through something like this.
“The cost is another thing to bear, but to think of how they were killed breaks my heart.
“It is a lot of money to lose.
“I’ve had some for 10 years and am despairing to leave them alone.”
Mrs Bury has more than 200 sheep which she keeps as a hobby and enters into shows.
She said the ewes were kept specifically to breed lambs each year, and the loss of her main ewe would hit her hard.
Police are appealing for witnesses to both attacks in the field adjoining the Thames Path at West End, Stanton Harcourt.
Anyone with any information should call 101.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS ABOUT DOGS
Must dogs be kept on a lead on a public right of way?
The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 s1(2)(c) makes it an offence for a dog to be at large – not on a lead or otherwise under close control – in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.
Can dog walkers be stopped from using a public right of way?
No. A Traffic Regulation Order could be used to prohibit use of a public right of way by anyone accompanied by a dog but this may not be possible given the exceptions provided by Dog Control Orders.
Can a farmer legally shoot a dog?
Section 9 of the Animals Act 1971 states that the owner of livestock, the landowner or anyone acting on their behalf, can shoot any dog if they believe it is “the only reasonable way” of stopping it worrying livestock.
The livestock owner must report the shooting to the police within 48 hours.